Arizona State coach Todd Graham told FOXSportsArizona.com on Thursday that a new running backs coach had been hired, and an athletic department source later confirmed it to be Chris Thomsen, who was part of Graham’s initial staff at ASU before leaving for a position at Texas Tech.
An official announcement is expected some time Friday once paperwork has been completed with ASU’s human relations department. Thomsen replaces Larry Porter, who left ASU last week for the same position at Texas following one year with the Sun Devils.
This will be Thomsen’s second stint with ASU. He was hired in December 2011, shortly after Graham arrived in Tempe, but left about two months later to coach the offensive line at Texas Tech.
Thomsen took over as Texas Tech’s interim coach when Tommy Tuberville left to take the head-coaching position at Cincinnati and led the Red Raiders to a 34-31 win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Thomsen was not offered a position on new Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff, and reports indicated he was close to joining new Cal coach Sonny Dykes in Berkeley. Another report last Friday said Thomsen had been hired at ASU, but Graham refuted the report the following day, saying he was still in the process of interviewing candidates.
Thomsen will have a strong group of running backs to work with, including All-Pac-12 honorable-mention players D.J. Foster and Marion Grice as well as Terrell Davis, who redshirted this season as a freshman. ASU’s 205.4 rushing yards per game last season ranked third in the Pac-12 and 25th in the nation. It was also the second-highest mark by any ASU team in the past 25 seasons.
Before his first brief stint at ASU, Thomsen was the head coach at Division II Abilene Christian for seven seasons, going 61-21 overall. However, because of vacated wins for NCAA violations, his record there is officially 51-21. Thomsen previously was an assistant at Abilene Christian (1994-99), offensive coordinator at Wichita Falls High School (2001-02) and offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator at Central Arkansas.